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Pollock's Toy Museum in London is built inside two houses that have been knocked through into each other. One is 18th Century and the other is 19th Century and all the rooms are connected together by lots of winding staircases and little corridors and archways. I remember this place from when I was a child. I think my first visit there was with my grand parents when I was about 8, and I can just remember being completely wowed by all these toys to look at. Especially as back then some of the toys weren't in cases and were touchable. I remember talking to my grand parents about their toys and looking to see if we could find any that were like ones they had, and when we did, thinking how different they were to the toys me and my brother played with.
Every nook and cranny in the place is filled with toys, they're not just in the rooms either, there are collections as you go up the winding stairs too. Everything from board games to tin soldiers and other tin toys, mechanical toys with wind up parts, puppets in all shapes and sizes, teddy bears large and small, and a huge assortment of dolls: wax ones, china ones, cloth and even wooden ones. Girl dolls and boy dolls, baby dolls and grown up dolls in beautiful outfits. All sorts of other dolly things are there too and the whole place is fascinating.
I've been here a few times now, and although the layout is a bit different to what I remember from early visits, I think that there are probably even more things to see here now than there were back then. There are as I recall six rooms, and three staircases which have collections in or on them as well as the ground floor where the toyshop is. I'm not sure how often the displays are changed as each of our visits has been a few years apart, and my memory either fails me enough for lots to seem new each time, or there is plenty that changes - I can't be sure which to be perfectly frank.
When I first visited as a child I do remember reaching the top of one staircase and being amazed to find that in this kind of window bay right at the top of the house was a number of dolls houses. I think if I hadn't been dragged away I could have literally spent hours there looking into all the wee little rooms at all these amazing miniatures of everything you could imagine. As I've mentioned already, the layout is a bit different today, and all the dolls houses re now in one room along with lots of teddy bears, but last time we visited I still found the dolls houses fascinating and it was also pleasing to see that there were still children visiting with their grandparents enjoying the same sort of trip as we did when we were kids and looking at all the things that kids of previous eras had played with and asking their grand parents lots of questions.
On the ground floor is the toy shop that's linked to the museum. It's a pretty impressive toy shop - not as big as some, but I remember buying some minature dolls house furniture there as a child after being so impressed with what I'd seen in the museum. I didn't have a dolls house to put it in, but somehow that didn't seem to matter at the time. When we went last time, I picked up a lovely book all about dolls through the ages for my niece, and some old fashioned wooden penny whistles for my nephews as well as a cardboard toy theatre which came in a book and had pieces to be cut out and slotted together.
One of the biggest draw backs today seems to be the opening hours. These are not really conducive to taking kids there as they ought to be. It's open 10-5 Monday to Saturday which means that for most people, Saturday is the only day other than during the school holidays that you could take the kids, although I suppose it's possible that schools take kids on trips during the week or something, but for a museum that's all about toys it does seem odd.
The other drawback for me visiting Pollocks is that it is not wheelchair friendly. This means that I have to be able to mange lots of walking to enjoy this, as although it's not a vast museum, it is one where you want to do a lot of standing and bending and looking and reading.